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Super Bowl Officials to Have Strict Control Over All Game Balls

Friday, 23 Jan 2015 10:49 AM

Super Bowl referee Bill Vinovich and his six-man officiating crew will have strict control over game balls -- per long standing policy -- the National Football League said as it continues an investigation into whether footballs the New England Patriots supplied for the conference championship game were underinflated.

The Patriots face the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL’s championship game on Feb. 1 in Glendale, Arizona, after beating the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in the American Football Conference title game. An NFL probe found that 11 of the 12 balls supplied by the Patriots and used by their offense in the Jan. 18 game were inflated by about 2 pounds per square inch below the league’s 12.5 to 13.5 PSI requirement, according to ESPN.

Throughout the season, each team supplies 12 balls to the referee for approval two hours and 15 minutes before the game’s starting time. Those balls can be rubbed down and prepared by equipment managers at the specifications of a team’s starting quarterback, but can’t be altered once approved by the referee and given to the ball attendants for each team.

At the Super Bowl, the equipment manager of another team is in charge of the game balls and arranging for the ball attendant crews, which are hired before the participating teams are determined, the NFL said in a statement. Chicago Bears equipment manager Tony Medlin will be in charge of this year’s game balls, which are supplied by Wilson Sporting Goods.

While officials will maintain “strict control of the game balls,” many aspects of the regular-season process remain in place, the NFL said, including allowing teams to break in the balls they will use on offense.

“Super Bowl teams will receive balls to work with during practice as per our policies,” the league said. “The balls are then returned to the league late next week.”

Standard Inflation

According to the league’s rule book, the footballs used in games are required to be inflated to a pressure of 12.5 to 13.5 pounds per square inch and weigh 14 to 15 ounces.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said at a Thursday news conference that he didn’t alter the balls he used in last week’s AFC title game and coach Bill Belichick said he didn’t have an explanation for the flat footballs. The balls supplied and used on offense by the Colts in the AFC title game fell within the league’s parameters, ESPN said.

The incident has become known as “Deflategate” in broadcast, print and social-media debates, and the Patriots face possible fines, suspensions and the loss of draft picks if the NFL finds they sought to gain a competitive advantage or compromised the integrity of the most popular U.S. sport. The NFL hasn’t yet commented on its findings.

“The integrity of the sport is very important,” Brady said. “Everyone is trying to figure out what happened, but at the same time you have to prepare for the Seahawks.”

No Effect

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said the controversy didn’t have a significant effect on the AFC title game and won’t impact the Super Bowl.

“If it’s against the rules, then it’s against the rules, but you’ll see that it’s not going to have any effect on this game,” Sherman said at a news conference. “Nobody is going to get suspended, nothing is going to happen. They’re going to play this game. Whatever they did, the risk/reward was greater.”

 

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Super Bowl referee Bill Vinovich and his six-man officiating crew will have strict control over game balls -- per long standing policy -- the National Football League said as it continues an investigation into whether footballs the New England Patriots supplied for the...
super, bowl, deflated, balls
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2015-49-23
Friday, 23 Jan 2015 10:49 AM
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